What You Need to Know
Tractor suitcase weights are common items used to add weight for traction and grip – also known as ballast – to your sub-compact, compact, and standard tractor. This is needed because anything that causes a shift in the center of gravity of your tractor, such as uneven ground, can cause your tractor to tip and overturn. Pulling any sort of implement can also cause the center of gravity to shift, so adding weight with your load keeps your tractor evenly distributed and the driver safe.
Suitcase weights are a great option for adding this weight for a number of reasons.
- They are available in different sizes and colors to best fit your tractor.
- They are easy to grasp by their handle, just like a suitcase.
- They are easy to switch out, so if you need to add additional weight or alternatively, take some weight off, you can do so quickly and efficiently.
- They are compact and easy to store so that any you aren’t using won’t take up a lot of space.
Before we dive any deeper, though, let’s take a quick look at the science and mechanics of tractors and ballast.
Tractors and ballast - a brief history
For millennia, agricultural work relied on muscle power from both humans and animals. By the mid-1800s, the industry changed forever when the first steam-powered traction engines rolled onto field in the United States. These expensive, cumbersome metal beasts were forerunners to today’s fuel-powered tractors that weighed up to 60,000 pounds! Even so, steam traction engines could accomplish far more in one day of work than a team of horses and people.
Gas-powered machines in the early 20th century were the first to be called “tractors” and soon replaced steam traction engines. Less expensive and lighter weight, gas- and diesel-powered tractors gained enough popularity over the next fifty years to overtake the use of horses in agricultural work. By the 1950s, tractor manufacturing had evolved to include much of the standard components found on today’s tractors, including rubber wheels and three-point hitches. With the invention of the three-point hitch, manufacturers soon designed quick hitch models that allowed for a single operator to attach implements.
Contemporary tractor designs require the addition of ballast weights to help maintain stability and traction. In fact, tractors today require a minimum rear ballast weight using either liquid in the tires or wheel weights for proper operation of both the machine and implements. Additionally, tractor operators can choose to add ballast weights to the front or rear axles for extra-heavy hauling and loading projects.
As already mentioned, ballasting is adding additional weight to your tractor to balance out the weight added by an implement in order to keep the tractor stable and safe. It also increases the traction and torque transfer of the tractor giving it more “oomph” as it does its work.
Throughout the course of your tractor’s life, your ballast needs will change based on the attachments you are using. So, it probably makes sense that you want a solution that makes changing the weight on your tractor easy and quick.
There are many ways you can add ballast to your sub-compact or compact tractor but in this article we are going to focus on just two: a ballast box and suitcase weights. Let’s review each.
This a box that attaches to your three-point hitch that you can fill with sand, rocks, concrete or other material to make it heavy, based on how much weight you need. While ballast boxes can be compact, they also can be cumbersome when you need to remove some of the materials in the box to reduce the weight. What’s more, they can be difficult to move and store, if filled with material.
These are individual weights made from cast iron that come in different sizes, such as 42-, 70- or 100-pound weights. Like a suitcase, they have a handle and a notched design that make it easy to slip onto the back of a hitch that has a weight bracket, such as Heavy Hitch.
We manufacture four different models of quick hitches, three of which include a weight bracket for suitcase weights. The location of the weight bracket varies by the model of the hitch. Our Super Duty hitch, for example, is our original Heavy Hitch and the smallest. On this, the weight bracket is located in the center and is lower than it is in the other two hitches. This limits you to using only 42-pound weights and is great for a subcompact tractor.
Our Offset Hitch is taller than the Super Duty, and the weight bracket is offset from the center to the back. With this, you can use a variety of suitcase weights, such as the 70-pound, 55-pound or 42-pound options.
Our Dual Bracket Hitch is even higher and more offset than the Offset Hitch and allows the most weight possible of any Heavy Hitch. This hitch has two brackets to use; you can use 70-pound weights in the back, and 42-pound weights in the front.
BENEFITS OF TRACTOR SUITCASE WEIGHTS OVER A BALLAST BOX
There are several benefits to tractor suitcase weights when compared to a ballast box.
Benefits Of Tractor Suitcase Weights:
- Plenty of clearance – they sit high enough off the ground so that even if the tractor is driving at a steep grade, the weights won’t scrape the ground, whereas a ballast box sits lower to the ground.
- Compact – although they very in weight and size, no tractor suitcase weight is so big that it’s not easy to work with. They take up less room than a ballast box, and even when you use several together, they still take up less room
- Flexible and versatile – you can use them in tandem with each other to come up with different weight combinations for your tractor, and you can use them on both the front and the rear of your tractor (although not at the same time).
There are some stark differences between a ballast box and suitcase weights. For a more detailed demonstration of these differences, and to see each in action, check out this video by Tractor Time with Tim:
Our Tractor Suitcase Weights
You have many options when it comes to who makes your tractor suitcase weights. Heavy Hitch is one such option with suitcase weights that come in three sizes – 42-pounds, 70-pounds and 100 pounds – as well as in two colors – black and John Deere green. They are compatible with several sub-compact tractor brands such as John Deere, Kubota, Case International, New Holland and more.
John Deere and MTD also manufacture suitcase weights, and each can be used in tandem with each other. In other words, most suitcase weights are made in the same style and are brand agnostic.
You may be wondering how many suitcase weights you can use at once with our hitches. The answer to that depends of the type of hitch you are using.
A category 0 hitch will hold up to six suitcase weights while a category 1 hitch will hold up to eight. These hitches will accept tractor suitcase weights from John Deere, MTD, and Heavy Hitch tractor suitcase weights.
Are Tractor Suitcase Weights Your Best Option for Ballast?
Tractor suitcase weights are the easiest solution for adding ballast to your subcompact or compact tractor. They are easy to use, are compact, and allow you to add as much or as little weight as you need in a quick efficient manner. They also store easily and don’t take up a lot of room.
Despite thinking otherwise, they ship easily. Once you have the suitcase weights you need, you are good to go. You won’t need to order more unless, of course, your ballast needs change.